Recommended:

Fritti

313 N. Highland Ave., Atlanta, GA 30307
404-523-6678, www.sottosottorestaurant.com   
Good choices: Despite the wave of new pizzerias, this remains the best in the city, according to many. Order the ‘shrooms app. Any pizza is a good choice, but the margherita, the test of any good pizzeria, is definitely the city’s best. Meat eaters should try the speck with arugula.

“I thought you were dead,” Robert blurted to one, Joey.

“I’m not dead,” Joey said, laughing. “But I understand. I always assume everyone I knew back in the ‘80s died of AIDS. By the way, did you hear that Lisa King died in September?”

Robert felt his heart sink. Lisa was a well-known drag performer in the city. He met her at the Dunk ‘n’ Dine on Cheshire Bridge across from the Sweet Gum Head, the city’s colossal show bar in the ‘70s and early ‘80s. 

Soon afterward – not long before she left the city — he took her to a big party his parents hosted. His mother called the next day.

“It’s your business if you want to date a black girl,” she told him. “But I don’t think it’s appropriate to bring her to a party.”

“She completely missed that Lisa was a man,” he told Joey, who laughed explosively.

Robert long ago lost contact with Lisa. Joey told him she died of MS in a Macon assisted-living facility.

Robert left the club early, feeling depressed. He was in no mood for companionship and decided to get something to eat. Lisa’s death made him sad – sad for Lisa, sad for the fact of his own mortality.  Unlike most people he knew, he loved to eat alone with a book.

Atlanta is a late-night party town, but it has never had a restaurant scene that accommodated it. Two of the few restaurants that stay open even as late as midnight on weekends are Fritti, a pizzeria, and Sotto Sotto, its neighbor with a menu of more “serious” dishes. The two were among Robert’s favorite restaurants.

He decided to hit the less expensive Fritti for one of the individual-sized pizzas. The carbs would lift his spirits, he told himself. He took a seat on the banquette and looked around, comparing the sedate scene to the raucous performance of Charlie Brown’s Cabaret he had just seen at Jungle. His eyes returned to the menu.

“Well, hey there, mind if I join you?” someone said, startling Robert.

He looked up to see it was Lee, with whom he had dined at Bantam & Biddy the night before. Robert had been smitten by Lee and decided to ignore his usual rule to run the moment he felt powerfully attracted to someone.

“Of course not,” Robert replied, feeling somewhat conflicted because of his sadness.

“Do you mind that I’m stalking you?” Lee asked.

Robert laughed. “No, I’m flattered,” he said. “Come here often?”

“Nope, never been here. Just decided to check it out,” Lee replied. He looked a bit tousled, wearing a baggy red t-shirt with the fading word “magical” printed on it.

“What’s good here?”

Robert told him they needed to share the funghi fritti, fried crimini and portobello mushrooms, whatever else they separately ordered.

Lee commented that Robert seemed somewhat uncomfortable. Robert apologized and told him the story about Lisa King.

“I’m sorry,” Lee said. “I always avoid reunions. The older I get, the more they become about illness, death, decrepit tricks, and hair loss.”

“You can’t be that old,” Robert said, smiling.

“I turn 50 in 18 months,” he said.

“Well you’re indeed magical then, because you don’t look 40. I’m turning the same age in less than a year,” Robert replied. “Maybe I should stalk you for the secret of eternal youth.”

“Love,” Lee replied. “It’s all about love.”

“And all this time I thought it was about making a facial mask out of my favorite foods,” Robert said, digging into the mushrooms that just arrived, smelling faintly of white truffle oil.

“I will show you the way,” Lee replied, licking one of the mushrooms and passing it through the air before he popped it in his mouth.

To read about Lisa King: http://mysp.ac/11yd0Of

 


Food Porn is a fictional series by longtime Atlanta food critic Cliff Bostock. Set in real Atlanta restaurants, it chronicles the adventures of Robert, a gay man in search of a husband — or at least a good meal. For past chapters, visit www.thegavoice.com

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